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Migraine Causes Food: Food Triggers For Migraines

Have you ever thought about what migraine is caused by food? Is your headache caused by the meal or drink itself, or by one of the numerous substances or compounds in these foods? There are further complications.

The exact cause of migraines is unknown, however they are thought to be the result of abnormal brain activity affecting nerve impulses, neurotransmitters, and blood vessels in the brain for a brief period of time.

It’s unknown what causes this change in brain activity, but it’s possible that your genes predispose you to migraines in reaction to a specific trigger.

There is no one cause of migraine. If yours are, identifying and avoiding your triggers is one of the best ways to prevent them. For some people, this means avoiding certain foods.

Migraine Causes Food: Food Triggers For Migraines

What Foods And Drinks Are Thought To Trigger Headaches In Susceptible People?

To begin, it is critical to note that the majority of information about putative dietary headache causes comes from patient self-reports rather than randomised scientific studies. Despite the lack of scientific proof, the foods and beverages listed below have been recognised as potential headache triggers:

cheese that has been aged (blue cheese, brie, cheddar, English stilton, feta, gorgonzola, mozzarella, muenster, parmesan, swiss)

Migraine Canada - Migraine Triggers

Alcohol (red wine, beer, whiskey, Scotch, and champagne are the most commonly identified headache triggers)

Almonds, peanut butter, and other nuts and seeds

Pizza and tomato-based dishes

Potato chip-based products

Chicken liver pate and other organ meat pate

Smoked or dried fish

Foods fermented (pickles, olives, sauerkraut)

Freshly cooked yeast bread with sourdough bread (donuts, cakes, homemade breads, and rolls)

Brewer’s yeast is a natural supplement.

Bread, crackers, and desserts incorporating cheese

Most beans, including lima, Italian, pole, broad, fava, navy, pinto, snow peas, garbanzo, lentils, and dried beans and peas

Garlic-flavored onions


Fresh fruits include ripe bananas, citrus fruits, papaya, red plums, raspberries, kiwi, and pineapple.

Dried fruits (figs, raisins, dates)

Soups prepared using meat extracts or bouillon (rather than homemade broth or bouillon cubes labelled “all natural preservatives”)

Cans of soup

Cultured dairy products include sour cream, buttermilk, and yoghurt.


Coffee, tea, and soft drinks are examples of caffeinated beverages.

Aspartame and other artificial sweeteners

Hot dogs, sausage, bacon, lunchmeats/deli meals, pepperoni, and other cured or processed meats containing nitrates or nitrites

Soy sauce, meat tenderizer, Asian dishes, and a variety of packaged foods all include MSG. MSG is an abbreviation for monopotassium glutamate, autolyzed yeast, hydrolyzed protein, and sodium caseinate.

How Do I Determine Which Foods And Drinks Are My Headache Triggers?

One common method for establishing your own specific headache triggers is to keep a daily food headache diary of the foods and beverages you consume. You may consider yourself sensitive to a certain food or drink if you consistently get a headache 20 minutes to 2 hours after ingesting that item.

However, keep in mind that, while it may appear simple to track everything you consume in order to establish which foods and drinks may be causing your headache, it is not.

Food Headache Trackers Have Issues.

Is your headache the result of the meal or drink, or of one of the various chemicals or compounds included in these foods? Foods are made up of a variety of ingredients, many of which contain chemicals. Chemicals include nitrates/nitrites, phenylethylamine, sulfites, tannins, tyramine, salicylates, aspartate, added sugar, alcohol, caffeine, gluten, glutamate, and capsaicin.

Aside from consumed meals, beverages, and ingredients/chemicals, there are other factors to consider that may complicate diagnosing the source of your headache. These elements are as follows:

  • Have you altered your headache medication or dose recently?
  • Did you eat earlier or later than usual, or did you miss a meal?
  • Are you staying hydrated, or do you think your fluid intake was lower than normal before the headache began?
  • How long did you sleep the night before your headache?
  • What were you doing physically before the headache struck?
  • Were there any stressful events preceding the beginning of the headache?
  • What stage of the menstrual cycle (hormonal changes) were you in when the headache started?
  • What was the weather like before you started having headaches? (Strong sunlight, high humidity, stormy
  • weather and high humidity are examples of weather triggers.)
  • Do you have a family history of headaches?

With So Many Complicating Factors, What’s The Best Approach To Reduce My Chance Of Getting A Headache?

Being mindful of meals, beverages, and, most importantly, the components and chemicals identified as headache triggers may be a valuable tool and a good place to start.

Keep in mind that the reasons of headaches vary from individual to person. Understand that pinpointing a headache trigger extends much beyond food/drink items consumed in the hours or even days preceding the headache’s start. There are various other factors that influence the onset of a headache.

So, how can you lessen your odds of developing a headache? Controlling known headache influencers may be the best place to start. You have no control over a headache family history.

Other things you may manage include getting adequate sleep, avoiding missing meals, staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water, and exercising often.

It certainly doesn’t hurt to explore whether one or more food products (or components) may be triggering your headache in terms of meals, beverages, and substances.

Keep a headache log while eliminating one thing at a time for several weeks or months. Only remove a meal if you have a strong suspicion that it causes headaches; otherwise, you can remove dishes that you enjoy!

In this journal, record any subsequent events that occurred within 24 hours after the headache (did you eat on time, skip meals, experience a stressful event, stage in the menstrual cycle, etc).

You may begin to filter through and discover the sources of your headache with all of this information at your disposal.

Finally, here are some tips for reducing the possibility that any meals can become headache triggers:

  • Consume a well-balanced, healthy diet high in vegetables, fresh foods, and low-fat protein.
  • Reduce your intake of processed (packaged) foods.
  • Do not skip meals.
  • You should generally avoid consuming anything if you can’t recognise what’s on the label.

Why Does Food Give You Headaches?

The exact cause of migraines is uncertain. Doctors believe they are caused by transitory alterations in your brain function. These have an effect on both your blood vessels and nerve transmissions. As a result, severe headaches may last for many days.

10 Ways to Stop or Lower Pain in Headache and Migraine

Migraines can be brought on by a number of things, including drugs, hormonal changes, and a lack of sleep. Your diet also has an impact. Food is a trigger for around 10% of people who get severe headaches.

Cautionary Foods

Some of the most common trigger foods are:

  • Sourdough bread, bagels, doughnuts, and coffee cake are examples of yeast-based baked goods.
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy products containing lactic acid bacteria (like yoghurt and kefir)
  • Fruits and juices include citrus fruits, dried fruits, bananas, raspberries, red plums, papayas, passion fruit, figs, dates, and avocados.
  • nut butters containing nuts
  • Soy-based olive products (miso, tempeh, soy sauce)
  • Tomatoes
  • Vegetables include onions, pea pods, some beans, maize, and sauerkraut.
  • Vinegar

Reduce your cheese consumption.

Tyramine is a naturally occurring substance that accumulates in protein-rich diets over time. It also acts as a migraine trigger. These cheeses are high in tyramine:

  • Blue
  • Brie
  • Cheddar
  • Feta
  • Mozzarella
  • Muenster
  • Parmesan
  • Swiss

Avoid These Additives

Chemicals added to food to enhance flavour or extend shelf life may trigger a headache:

Monosodium glutamate (MSG) (monosodium glutamate).

The Connection Between Migraines and Diet

While research studies have not conclusively proved MSG as a migraine trigger, if it appears to be one, you should avoid it. It is an important ingredient in soy sauce and meat tenderizer. It’s commonly labelled as “all natural preservatives” or “hydrolyzed protein” on packaged foods, and it’s been related to migraines within 20 minutes of intake.

Nitric acid and nitrates

These chemicals may be found in a variety of cured and processed meats, including hot dogs, ham, and bacon. They force your blood vessels to dilate when they enter your system, resulting in a headache.


It is unclear how this artificial sweetener, which is 150 times sweeter than sugar, causes headaches. More research is necessary. However, you should limit your use to a minimum.

Keep an eye on what you drink as well.

Although red wine has been linked to migraines, other alcoholic beverages such as beer, champagne, and hard liquor can also produce headaches. Certain alcohol ingredients cause aberrant behaviour in your brain’s neurotransmitters and blood vessels. This does not need spending the entire night in a pub. A single alcoholic beverage may produce a headache in some people.

Caffeine may cause a headache.

However, giving up your favourite drinks is not a smart idea. This might lead to withdrawal symptoms. Instead, limit your caffeine use to no more than 200 mg per day. That is around one small cup of coffee. Caffeine may be present in more than just hot beverages and certain sodas. Chocolate also includes some.

Examine Your Eating Patterns

A migraine might be caused by more than just what you eat. Your eating choices also play a part. You may have a headache if you:

  • Consume inadequately
  • Inadequate water consumption
  • Meals should be avoided.

How To Hold Off Migraines?

To avoid a migraine after eating, take the following precautions:

Select healthier foods. Consume as much fresh, healthy foods as possible, such as fruits and vegetables. Consume no processed or packaged foods.

Eat more “mini” meals. Instead of three large meals each day, go for five or six little ones. This will prevent a headache caused by hunger. You’re also less likely to eat a huge amount of a certain food that might trigger a migraine.

Drink plenty of water. To stay hydrated, drink at least eight glasses of water every day.

Keep your stress under control. Anxiety and stress may cause your head to ache. Regular exercise may help you achieve emotional control. It will also help you maintain a healthy weight.

How To Carry Out An Elimination Diet?

An elimination diet may be effective if you suspect that certain foods or beverages are triggering your migraines. You’ll eliminate migraine-causing foods and beverages before gradually reintroducing them. If your migraine symptoms return, it might be related to a change in diet.

Consult your doctor before attempting it. Make sure it’s safe for you and discover how to adjust the diet plan to your individual needs.

Take it easy.

Don’t get rid of everything that might cause a headache all at once. That will just make determining which ones affect you more complicated. Food restriction is also hazardous to children and pregnant women.

Instead, remove one potential food trigger at a time. Keep a record of your emotions over the next month. This should assist you in determining if the food in question is a problem or whether you can keep eating it.

Keep a food journal.

A food journal will help you keep track of what you eat. Don’t only ponder about what you ate that day if you develop a migraine. Go back up to three days.

People may desire migraine-causing products. If you suspect a certain food or drink, cut it out of your diet for at least a month.

Think about your meds.

If your symptoms do not improve after following this diet, consult with your doctor about all of your prescription and over-the-counter drugs. Some commonly used drugs, such as those used to treat acne, asthma, and heart disease, have been linked to migraines. Some birth control pills and weight loss supplements may potentially be dangerous.

Do not stop or change any of your medications unless your doctor has given you permission.

An elimination diet is not without flaws.

Because migraines are caused by a variety of non-food reasons, keep in mind that diet may not supply all of the remedies.

And, in order for this diet to work, you must follow the plan exactly. There are several foods to avoid, and you must be determined to do so. However, if you persevere, you will be able to develop a strategy for preventing a migraine headache.